Your rights as NJ pet shop chain agrees to fine, stop selling animals

New Jersey officials say a pet shop chain owner has agreed to permanently stop selling animals in the state and will pay $326,000 to settle claims it misled customers about the health of dozens of puppies it sold.

The agreement made public Monday resolves a consumer fraud complaint filed against the Just Pups pet stores and its owner, Vincent LoSacco. The chain has stores in East Brunswick, East Hanover, Emerson and Paramus.

Officials say the chain didn't reimburse consumers for animals that got sick or died and committed dozens of other consumer protection violations.

The state has said LoSacco advertised or otherwise represented that puppies were healthy and were up-to-date with vaccinations. But officials say the Emerson resident sold at least 55 puppies that were "sick or defective."

Click here for the announcement from the Attorney General's Office and the Division of Consumer Affairs.

They add New Jersey Consumer Protection Laws, including the Pet Purchase Protection Act:

-- Require that cage labels for every animal contain detailed information about the animal's background including the name of the breeder and veterinarian who last examined it.

-- Forbid the sale of any animal purchased from a breeder or broker who doesn't hold required state and federal licenses; has violated certain animal welfare laws in the past two years; or has refused to grant inspectors access to its facilities within the past two years.

-- Require that an animal be examined by a veterinarian within five (5) days of being offered for sale and that those results be included in the animal's history and health certificate.

-- Mandate that if an animal was examined more than 14 days before it is purchased, the pet must be re-examined within three (3) days of delivery to the consumer (unless the consumer declines the re-examination in writing).

-- Potentially entitle consumers to restitution if an animal becomes seriously ill or dies within 14 days after the date of purchase and a veterinarian certifies within that 14-day period that the animal was unfit for purchase. It is the consumer's responsibility to have the animal examined by a veterinarian and to obtain the written certification. This certification is required in order to apply for restitution and must be presented to the pet store where the animal was purchased.

-- Make available different types of restitution to consumers. It is the consumer's decision regarding which form of restitution to accept. The restitution choices include returning the animal and receiving a refund or a replacement animal of equivalent value, plus some veterinary fees, or keeping the animal and being reimbursed for certain veterinary fees. In the case of death of the animal from causes other than an accident, the consumer may receive a refund or another animal or equivalent value, plus certain veterinary fees. After the consumer provides the veterinarian certification and selects the preferred form of restitution, the pet store must provide the restitution within 10 days.